Meet Broadway’s newest Countess of the Clink: Jinkx Monsoon! The RuPaul’s Drag Race alum makes history this week as she takes on Matron “Mama” Morton in the long-running revival of Chicago. NY1 entertainment journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with Jinkx to talk about fulfilling a lifelong dream, and more.
Jinkx, you’re making history with your performance! You are the first drag queen to play Mama in Chicago on Broadway.
I think we should ask some of the past performers if any of them identify as drag queens. [Laughs.] It means a lot. I’m following in the footsteps of my sister Peppermint, who broke ground as the first Ru girl, drag queen, trans woman to perform on Broadway, in Head Over Heels. And now I get to take the torch and do my own thing with it. I’m excited!
I understand the song “All That Jazz” was instrumental in your discovery of drag.
I credit the film Chicago, as well as Moulin Rouge!, for being responsible for me being a drag queen today. “All That Jazz” has been one of my go-to numbers since I started drag at the age of 15. It kind of feels like seeds have been planted along the way and this would be a culminating moment one day.
Tell me about your Mama Morton. What’s she like?
She’s a little scrappy, but she’s a survivor. She genuinely cares for people, but she knows how to get by in this world. She’s a realist.
How did this opportunity come along?
Very traditionally. I’ve been putting it into the universe for the last decade. My representation reached out and said, “We got an audition for you for Chicago.” I put my all into the audition. That’s how it works.
And I understand Broadway has always been a dream.
Absolutely — since childhood. My family always saw this on the horizon for me. It really is something I’ve put a lot of energy into.
So, you’re checking off Mama in Chicago. Give me some other dream roles.
Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, the Witch in Into the Woods … I’m a bit of a Sondheim girl.
Diva-wise, who do you look up to in the Broadway community?
I feel like I say Bebe Neuwirth’s name every day. Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald — just the girls.
When you think about Drag Race and what the girls have to go through, you’re beyond triple threats. Seeing all the talent that’s been on the show over the years, I think a Drag Race musical could happen.
I saw a drag murder-mystery musical in the West End called Death Drop. It was written by a drag queen and performed by all drag performers. If we were to do a big musical on Broadway, I would say the writers need to be from the sisterhood. Producers can be adjacent to the sisterhood, but if you want the real story, the writers have to be some queens.
Have you talked to the ladies from Drag Race? Will they be there on your opening night?
It’s been amazing; they’ve hit me up to say they have tickets!
What’s going to go through your mind when you realize “I’m on stage making my Broadway debut”?
I’ll probably be thinking anxious Virgo thoughts! But hopefully what will happen instead: I’ll just be present in the moment.
As an observer, you are living your true authentic self and living the Broadway dream. How does that make you feel?
I like to think I’m paying it forward. Because it was the queens of the old guard of drag who taught me to be who I am today. I learned there is so much power to sharing your story. And you never know who is going to relate to your story until you share it.
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